Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. PHOTOGRAPHY: KEVIN BRANDING KELLY as business strategy Branding is part art, part science. It is intangible, visceral, emotional, personal, cultural, and very hard to build. In this article, Dean Roger Martin and Assistant Dean Kate Eccles argue that branding isn’t about advertising and PR, it’s about how your firm is fundamentally going to compete. I t’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”. Most of us William Shatner and his daughter, traversing the remember this campaign — a series of clever generation gap through a shared commitment to and compelling General Motors ads designed to the Oldsmobile brand. address a worrying trend: The buyer profile of Why, then, after years of brand bodywork, did one of GM’s key divisions was aging. As sales kept General Motors make the decision last December drifting downward, GM relaunched the Oldsmobile to phase out the Oldsmobile — the oldest automo- brand in 1988 with a ubiquitous ad campaign tive brand in America? designed to capture a new generation. Well, it turned out it was your father’s Oldsmo- Many of us recall the high production values bile after all. of these ads, which ran in various iterations for The Oldsmobile ads may have amused sample over a decade. Celebrity father-child pairs like consumers in focus groups, but they did nothing to { R O T M A N M A N A G E M E N T } 5
  2. 2. provide real customers with Some would try to pro- BUILDING AN AUTHENTIC ORGANIZATION a compelling reason to buy mote a brand that is inconsis- A brand isn’t just what the customer experi- the cars. In a last-ditch effort tent with what consumers ences. It’s everything that a company’s vendors, to resurrect the brand, actually experience.They think employees, and board members touch. Oldsmobile hired a new ad that if only they can get some- Companies need to rethink who defines their director a couple of months one to draw the right pictures, brand.The power of marketing and advertising before the announcement. to make the right commer- directors is declining. As service becomes an Why, even with this chang- cials, to have the right PR important part of the brand experience, ing of the guard, couldn’t firm, consumers will say the employees in customer service and distribution they produce ads that were right things in focus groups become just as important to the brand as the compelling to customers? and buy their products. marketing and communications departments. The truth is:The Oldsmobile demise wasn’t But the truth is, a brand becomes what For Sleep Country Canada, the brand is as due to ineffective advertising. It was because consumers see, not what the firm wants it much about the booty-clad deliverymen as the you can’t stand for something that you aren’t. to be. The phase out of GM’s Oldsmobile ubiquitous radio advertisements.The separation division illustrates how difficult it can be of marketing, research, advertising and cus- THE GOLDEN THREAD to resurrect a brand — even one with a tomer service into silos no longer makes sense. In an age of accelerating product proliferation, century of history — once it has fallen out of Your brand is a manifestation of your culture enormous customer choice, and growing favour and no longer delivers authentically to — the hearts of your people and what they clutter and clamor in the marketplace, a great the consumer. stand for as individuals.The heart of what your brand is a necessity, not a luxury. To build brand equity, a company needs to firm is prepared to promise. The only way to People tend to think branding is a straight- do two things — distinguish its product from have a really strong brand, therefore, is to have forward final step of a strategy: Figure out what others in the market, and align what it says an authentic organization. you are going to do and then brand it.As though about its brand in advertising and marketing The Four Seasons — a great Canadian com- you could “brand” your firm as an afterthought, with what it actually delivers — both of which pany with 50 hotels in 22 countries — under- hire an ad agency to “brand” your product, or Oldsmobile failed to do. stands this well.These hotels do not compete change ad directors to resurrect a dying brand. The truth is that a brand is a synoptic, inte- grative view of the firm, and is completely Branding Case Study: Algorithmics Inc. central to business strategy. As much as any- thing, a brand stands for an attitude, a way of competing. Indeed, one could go as far as to With billions of dollars loaned, traded, and branding magic has been made. I believe the call it culture. In the final analysis, you can’t transacted globally every day, millions of dollars Algorithmics brand has reached that place.” “get” a brand.You have to “be” a brand. are potentially at risk at any given moment in time. “When I started this company, I could have Many people equate branding with logos, Having pioneered a way to proactively measure taken the approach that we would be just another but that would be too narrow a definition. A and manage risk by determining the total exposure tech company, rushing product to market and logo is a symbol, but a brand is a story. Brands of a financial institution across all of its global paying little heed to aesthetic sensibility, brand are about passion, commitment, and meaning, activities, Algorithmics software is now at the development, culture and art.” Instead, Dembo not about what the label looks like on the heart of risk management for more than 120 lead- decided to build a company that would lead the supermarket shelf. ing banks, asset managers and corporations in industry both in research and development, and in Your brand is a “golden thread” that runs 26 countries. thought leadership. To do so, he had to build an through everything your firm is about, connect- Since its inception 12 years ago, Algorithmics aesthetic, a culture, a community — “all those ing your strategy, your history, your corporate has evolved from an idea, to a name, to a team things which define a brand, that supercede a culture, directly to the heart of your consumer. of dedicated people, to an identity, to products, ‘business as usual’ approach.” Branding is partly about storytelling and and finally, to a state of “brand magic”, according Making striking design a priority has had an meaning, but it’s also about authenticity. It’s to its President and CEO, Ron Dembo. Dembo incredible impact on the Algorithmics brand, about the ability to really connect to the heart spoke about his company’s brand at the Rotman says Dembo. “We’ve relied heavily on strong, yet of the consumer, and about your willingness to Entrepreneurial Design Workshop held last simplistic design, metaphor, and a primary colour keep promises — to your employees, your November. “When a brand transcends into some- palate. “ As a result, the company’s corporate customers, and the communities in which your thing that people recognize, identify with, need, identity, advertisements, and collateral materials company operates. and ultimately choose as a result of its identity, appeal to universal sensibilities. “Consistently 6 { S P R I N G /S U M M E R 2001 }
  3. 3. with the best hotels in the world on the basis of hotels before — they’re looking for those who profile. Four Seasons employees, unlike many better facilities, better real estate, or the mag- are going to love serving their customers, who in their competitors’ hotels, receive more nificent physical structures of the world’s are respectful and empathetic — those who training, have unprecedented opportunities to oldest grand luxury hotels. Their competitive understand what the Four Seasons banner stands be promoted within their organization, and strategy — and what the brand has come to for and who want to become part of that tribe. have a lower turnover rate by far than the symbolize — is impeccable and unforgettable In exchange, this authentic brand provides industry average. Four Seasons understands customer service. great opportunities for those who fit the brand continued on page 9 Yet, Chairman and CEO Isadore Sharp doesn’t have a “customer service” department. Why? Because everybody who works at a Four The Role of Identity in Branding Seasons hotel is automatically in the customer service business. On the recent opening of their newest property in New York City, the As you stroll through the grocery aisles, define an organization’s brand are its identity company reviewed 30,000 applications, and plucking items from the shelves and filling and the way in which people identify with it. interviewed 3,000 people, in order to fill 400 up your cart, telling one brand from another Rotman alumnus Blake Ashforth positions.They take the selection of those who is relatively easy. It’s unlikely you would (BCom ‘80, PhD ‘86), currently teaching at the will “be” the brand seriously. accidentally reach for a box of Kellogg’s University of Arizona, is a leading researcher The Four Seasons recruiters aren’t looking Cornflakes when you’re looking for Kraft in the area of Organizational Identity (OI). He for people who have necessarily worked in Peanut Butter. When it comes to consumer calls OI “the soul of an organization”. Defining products, we remember logos, slogans, an organization’s identity requires identifying and the colors and packaging associated the qualities that make it distinctive from its with them. But for more complex entities, competitors. To survive and thrive, every such as large organizations or educational entity, whether it be an organization, group, or institutions, branding can be much more institution, must formulate an answer to the complicated. Two of the key things that question, “Who am I?” Another key concept in defining an organization’s brand is identification, which is people’s perception of ‘oneness with’ or ‘belongingness to’ the organization. We all want to think we’re part of something bigger is also critical.” In the case of than ourselves. Organizations that manifest Algorithmics and most other suc- that sensibility create the emotional context cessful brands, says Dembo, the people need to locate themselves in a larger people in the company and the experience. People who strongly identify corporate culture are also a critical with an organization incorporate some of what component of brand building. “A huge part of our they believe to be distinctive and enduring success has been as a result of ‘the company we about it into their own self-concept. Ron Dembo, President and keep’. Our people are critical to our unique and Research shows that employee involvement CEO of Algorithmics Inc. distinct brand.” is a key component in building reputation With 500 employees speaking 22 languages for a company, creating an attractive image in 16 offices worldwide, Algorithmics is truly a for it, and promoting identification with it. excellent design has become one of the hallmarks global village. “We recognize and celebrate this Ashforth and his colleagues have found that of our brand and, I believe, speaks to the superiority unique and extraordinary cultural diversification strong identification is linked to the likelihood of the solutions we offer.” — and I know that our customers do as well.” that members will externally promote the But it takes more than strong design to create a Customers are made to feel as though Algorithmics organization and contribute to it financially. successful brand. “Equally important is that we’ve staff are not only ‘speaking their language’ in a Identification is also said to directly affect managed to create products that people want, and literal sense, but that they also feel their cultural, employee decision-making and understanding. have priced them at a level perceived as ‘value political, and social needs are being understood — Jelena Zikic, PhD Candidate in for money’. Choosing appropriate promotional and addressed. “That’s a big part of who we are,” Organizational Behavior, vehicles and ensuring the right sales channels says Dembo. Rotman School of Management { R O T M A N M A N A G E M E N T } 7
  4. 4. The Radical Rotman Brand How did the Rotman School manage to become the research and focus groups. They are more focused on models of the leading schools. most often-quoted business school in the country, the big picture — growth and expansion — than “We adopted a school-wide strategy to pursue despite a minimal advertising budget and a one-person short-term profits. Examples of radical marketers uniqueness, not replication — distinctiveness, not media department? The answer: radical marketing. include: Harley-Davidson; Madonna; The Grateful predictability,” says Martin. “To win, the School has to The term ‘radical marketing’ was coined by Dead; Oprah Winfrey’s “Harpo Productions”, and act simultaneously across a range of key dimensions Sam Hill of Booz-Allen & Hamilton to describe the Virgin Atlantic. to create a system of intersecting and mutually unorthodox publicity approach often adopted by With the arrival of Dean Roger Martin in reinforcing advantages that will lock in our competi- successful entrepreneurs who must establish their September of 1998, U of T’s School of Management tive position and make it difficult for others to replicate brands under significant resource constraints. was ready to embark on a period of unprecedented our distinctiveness.” One element of that system is Radical marketers relate differently to their growth and renewal, pursuing an ambitious goal to radical marketing. customers than traditional marketers do. They aspire rank among the top ten business schools in the world “Radical marketers are driven by a dream that to be in tune emotionally with their customer base, within seven to ten years. Far behind the top business borders on obsession,” says Kate Eccles, Assistant which allows them to glean superior marketing insight schools in both scale and resources, Rotman could not Dean, Advancement and Chief Marketing Officer. without spending millions of dollars on market expect to compete by merely replicating successful “They are frequently hindered by limited financial Radical Marketing 101: • The CEO’s image is consistent with the brand. • Advertising is used only in very minimal, targeted ways. If used at all, it’s a “content blast” with a specific message and purpose, not a continuous stream of general image advertising. • Marketing focuses on creating strong visceral ties with specific target audiences, creating a sense of a “club” or a community of consumers. • Publicity is the top mass market external relations tool, used strategically to position the brand, with the CEO as the central media player. • “Market research” is minimal: Close consumer ties provide needed information and feedback is continual and built into day-to-day operations. • Staff and constituents are energized and act for the brand as “passionate missionaries.” • Marketing mix is unorthodox, but the organization is absolutely obsessive about brand integrity. 8 { S P R I N G /S U M M E R 2001 }
  5. 5. resources, but are inspired by a belief in their product. continued from page 7 is populated by engineer car fanatics who drive At the Rotman School, we operate with significantly that its brand is about the customer experi- the cars with speed and rapture, and care less resources than our top-ten competitors, all of ence. They also know that the ‘golden intensely about quality. The notion is that the whom have significantly more marketing staff than thread’ is delicate and easily broken — raison d’etre for the Porsche family and the we do, and huge budgets for outsourcing advertising, by not having the right people at the engineers who work with it is the desire to PR, communications and special events. As a small customer interface, their brand would build cars that are good enough for themselves community, we have to think differently — we have become meaningless. — the idea that the firm’s own employees are to be radical if we are to achieve ambitious goals.” The best brands are polarizing — they its most demanding customers. The first step in executing the marketing plan was sacrifice alignment to the hearts of some, Virtually anything is brandable and offers to develop the three Rotman vision points: Global to speak deeply to the hearts of others. an opportunity to create a frame of mind that Competitiveness, Integrative Thinking, and the Value Porsche, for example, maintains an authen- is unique. A product line — like Oldsmobile of One. As well, the School needed a visual and tic connection to a narrow band of car — is something that is produced to function graphic identity. Enter Bruce Mau Design, which buyers — those who want only the best. and exist in reality. A brand has meaning created the now-familiar Rotman wordmark and Porsche’s brand promise is that their firm beyond functionality and exists in people’s devised a complete graphic standards manual. Mau developed the strong, dynamic “look” and colour palette which is now used for all Rotman publications, When Your Name Becomes a Brand Web sites, advertisements and signage. “It was vital that the Dean’s vision be positioned within a strong and coherent brand, and that the Choosing to put your name on an institution School’s goals and objectives be clearly communicated is a deeply personal and difficult choice. to internal and external constituencies,” says Eccles. You are putting your name in the hands of “By having a clear competitive strategy and story, others (the people you’re partnering with.) represented by consistent visual symbolism, we have Seeing my name in the newspapers, on TV, attempted to create a billboarding effect for the and on the Rotman building itself reinforces Rotman brand across all public activities, media and the desire for the realization of my personal communications strategies.” dream: to see the U of T create an interna- “The brand is helping us draw an ever-expanding tionally-recognized, quality school to train circle of top business people to the School, and is young people for our country. helping to enhance our recruitment and fundraising In the beginning, my wife Sandy and I activities,” says Martin. “People are really starting to gave money to help create the dream, but understand what we stand for.” what’s happened is that the tables have turned Eccles adds: “The Rotman brand doesn’t live in — the Rotman School of Management has the marketing-communications department, but is provided us with pride and satisfaction in represented by everyone in the Rotman community the School’s reputation for excellence. — alumni, students, faculty, staff, donors and friends. Sandy and I have developed a sense of Everyone has been a part of this effort — and we affinity and connection with everyone really are beginning to get this tribal sense that associated with the School — students, together, we comprise a community that is doing alumni, faculty and staff members, and we something really great. One of the challenges we look forward to every single interaction that occurs, not only at the School, but on the streets of face moving forward is to continue to be obsessive North America and Europe.The School has become a gracious custodian of our name and we about our brand integrity, ensuring that we think very are immensely proud of our association with it, and in particular with Dean Roger Martin and strategically about what ‘products’ the Rotman brand his wife Nancy, both of whom share our dream and desire to make it come true. will offer, ensuring the brand is not diluted by poten- — Joseph L. Rotman (MCom ‘60) tially lucrative, but off-strategy offerings.” — Karen Christensen { R O T M A N M A N A G E M E N T } 9
  6. 6. What is most critical is putting the brand at the heart of the they attempt to stretch their brands.They need to do their homework, to talk to customers organization. This is how an organization differentiates itself about which product categories are a good fit from competitors and builds customer and employee loyalty. with their brand and which ones just don’t compute. By moving into categories such as hardware and home furnishings, many believe Amazon has gone too far — and that its brand minds. Branding is not advertising. Great brands create an emotional bond that grows out of will soon mean nothing more than “big”. reach out with a kind of powerful connecting their personality. experience that transcends the product. Great Successful diversified brands must also find THE HEART OF THE ORGANIZATION brands are personal.They become an integral and constantly reinforce the unifying factor A brand is forever being refined by the entity part of people’s lives by forging emotional con- that defines them.Virgin moved from airlines that brought it to life. It reflects the culture nections. Coke is nostalgia. Coke tells stories. into financial services and cola drinks — a that thrives in an organization and is reflected Nike, Disney, IBM, Levi’s, McDonald’s, highly diversified product line. But what’s by its employees.What is most critical is putting Sony, Xerox, Kleenex — these are the power important about Virgin isn’t which products the brand at the heart of the organization.This brands. Each has created a distinctive product, they produce.The “golden thread” is the idea of is how an organization differentiates itself from consistent delivery, alignment between commu- Virgin as a fun and exciting company, which is competitors and builds customer and employee nications and delivery, plus, perhaps most somewhat of a rebel against the system. loyalty. In short, it’s how a firm competes and importantly, personality and presence. They Companies should be careful about how far differentiates itself in the marketplace. RM Joining a Family of Brands The Rotman School’s brand doesn’t exist in isolation — it also fits within the ongoing parent brand of the University of Toronto. The U of T brand colours and associated “Great Minds for a Great Future” campaign were developed over the last four years by a team of U of T communicators headed by Director of Public Relations Sue Bloch-Nevitte, including Assistant Dean Kate Eccles and designer James Ireland of Toronto’s James Ireland Design Inc. “As we evolved the Rotman brand, we wanted to capitalize on one of our most important brand assets — our position within Canada’s leading research university,” says Eccles. James Ireland continues to work closely with the Rotman School, having inherited Rotman Management last spring and as the design spon- sor for this year’s Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. “The graphic logo created by Bruce Mau fits very well within the symbolism and messaging of the overall U of T brand. If I can get every designer working for the University to think dark blue and matching typefaces, we will be on the right track. Most importantly, design has to be a collaborative venture,” says Ireland. 10 { S P R I N G /S U M M E R 2001 }